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The Innings Festival

by Thomas S. Friedman • in
  • Festival Spotlight
  • June 2018
• Created: June 4, 2018

New Festival in Arizona Offered by C3 Presents with Support from Clearwing Productions

Arizona, home to music festivals like McDowell Mountain Music Fest, Wet Electric, Pot of Gold, and last year’s inaugural Lost Lakes Festival, was the setting of the first-ever Innings Festival. The three day baseball-themed event, produced by C3 Presents (Lollapalooza/Chicago and Austin City Limits) took place March 23 through March 25 at Tempe Beach Park, during the height of both Spring Break and MLB’s pro baseball Spring Training games in the area.

Over 30,000 people flocked to the park to see acts including Young the Giant, Counting Crows, Cold War Kids, and main stage headliners Chris Stapleton, The Avett Brothers, and Queens of the Stone Age.

Bright beams for the Avett Brothers, who headlined Saturday night, March 24.

C3 tapped Clearwing Productions to provide audio, backline, and lighting packages for the event’s three stages. In addition to project manager, Kimberly Gambucci, Clearwing brought on Charly Brems, one of the company’s go-to PMs for large-scale festivals like Summerfest and Electric Zoo.

“First time festivals usually have their own unique challenges,” says Brems. “Luckily, C3 does festivals very well, and things were thought through,” he adds, while noting that the festival was 100 percent challenge-free. “The main stage upstage was right on the Mill Avenue bridge,” says Brems, of the almost-90-year-old structure crossing the Salt River. “The semis had to back all the way down from Tempe Beach Park parking lot along Tempe Town Lake into the dock, which had lamp posts removed but the concrete footing remained. One truck had to hug the upstage side of the stage and the other separated by the concrete footing.”

Another challenge: Stage 2 was 2,000 feet from Stage 1. Moving crew to and from, transferring backline, and getting crew to catering for meal breaks required forethought. Gambucci handled the logistics that ensured everyone got where and what they needed.

Stage 3, meanwhile, was landlocked by festival-goers. Brems likens transferring backline each night to the action of Summerfest, an eleven-stage festival of hundreds of acts, where Clearwing also plays a key role. “In comparison, it was similar to three busy backline days at Summerfest, just with only three stages.”

Queens of the Stone Age performed as the opening night headline act, Friday, March 23.

‡‡         Main Stage

“We started the bid and design process well before artists had been confirmed,” says Ryan Driscoll, account executive at Clearwing. “We had to choose fixtures that we knew would be effective for 99 percent of the artist requests we are used to seeing on a day to day basis.”

To further add flexibility to the main stage rig, a mixture of wash, hybrid, and profile-type fixtures were utilized. “We could execute wash effects, textures, color, and specials as needed without having to spend an obscene amount of time programming or focusing too much time on exact placement of band members on stage,” says Driscoll. “The rig really allowed us the flexibility for artists to come in, load their shows, make small adjustments, and then go!”

Clearwing’s Mike Kowalski lit “Home Plate,” the festival’s 120-by-40-foot main stage (with a 60-by-40-foot performance space). His design made use of 28 Martin MAC Axiom Hybrids for stage highlights and 18 Viper Profiles for downstage wash, along with 16 Claypaky Sharpy Washes, 16 VL3015 Spot Luminaires and six Mole 2 Light DWEs. 12×12 pods made from 12-inch Tomcat Truss were shaped into diamonds to fall in line with the baseball/spring training theme of the festival.

“The pods fit into the roof and made for a very cool effect when the upstage motors of each pod were trimmed lower than the downstage,’” notes Driscoll.

The Head and the Heart performed on Saturday on the Right Field stage

‡‡         Right Field

Lighting on the second stage, called “Right Field,” included a design by Jeff Melzer. He utilized Axiom Hybrids, Martin MAC Auras, GLP impression X4 Bar 20s, Philips/Showline SL Nitro 510 LED Strobes and Mole 2-Light DWEs.

“We hung the X4 Bars at different angles and heights to give the upstage truss more dimension,” says Melzer. “Like any multi-act show, we had to keep things upstage and out of heavy-traffic areas. We accomplished this by having a few different tail downs and truss towers along the upstage to stay out of the way and still create a unique stage look.”

Melzer, a freelancer and frequent Clearwing collaborator who has toured with Sublime, Steve Miller Band, and the Dirty Heads, among others, says of designing and running lights for festivals, “It’s a different kind of experience. There’s an excitement to it, you try to anticipate what looks to create for each song and follow along with the band even if you are not familiar with their music.”

Cold War Kids on the Right Field stage

‡‡         Left Field

The LD for third stage, “Left Field,” was Clearwing’s Kristin Bradford. Although the Left Field stage was the smallest of the three, it featured a full moving fixture rig of 12 Martin MAC Auras and eight Martin MAC Axiom Hybrids, all hung. A pair of GLP Volkslichts, were used for truss toppers, along with uplighting from ETC ColorSource Pars.

“Many of the performances on Left Field happened during the day, so we made sure the audience could see movement and color,” Driscoll says. “A majority of the bands playing that stage were slower tempo, so we did slower color fades [and] did a lot of positioning- we’d start off low, flash through the crowd, and then to the sky.” The Martin MAC Auras were used for general wash, GLP Volkslichts for texture, and the Axioms for effects and specials from the downstage if needed.

In addition to musical acts, the Left Field stage featured daily cooking sessions hosted by Food Network Chef Beau MacMillan. For these segments, Bradford used the Auras in front to wash white for a natural look.

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